Ah, Summertime

14 07 2011

Classes may have been over for a few months now, but as usual, I’ve got many (probably too many) plates in the fire/irons in the air/what have you. But I’m trying my damnedest to bring my ability to execute a project in line with my ability to conceptualize, and these days, that means spending most of my spare time working on the Packard.
After spending too many years as a two-ton turquoise paperweight, I decided that this summer would see the Packard’s resurrection. So far, I’ve gotten everything taken apart—which is, of course, the first step towards getting everything put back together.

Oddly, the more parts I took off, the more intimidating the whole project became

I’ve chosen the Woodward Dream Cruise as my deadline, which gives me…a little over a month to get everything in order. It’s a pretty optimistic timeline but I’m outsourcing some of the repairs and tackling others myself. In order to take on some of the repair projects myself, I’ve turned the garage into a mini-shop complete with a stationary air compressor (no tools though,  yet) and soon, a MIG welder. Sure, it’s an investment, but with the price of labor these days, I’ll save money after completing just a few repair jobs myself. Plus, at the end of the summer, I’ll have invaluable mechanical experience and a garage full of tools. Pretty good deal in the long run.
One of the most remarkable parts of this restoration process was the engine pull. I have tools to do it (believe it or not, a decent engine crane is pretty cheap) but man, a 1200+ plus engine/transmission package is a pretty scary/awesome sight to behold. Especially when you wait until 11:30 at night to do the engine pull, alone. I wouldn’t advise anyone to perform a similar stunt without help on hand, but really, it came down to me getting really pissed at my lack of overall progress and blindly yanking the powertrain out in one swift maneuver. Nothing broke, thank God. I can’t wait to work on the Wagoneer, because even the 5.9L AMC V8 under its hood will be more manageable than the beastly Packard Straight-8.

Doubles as a battering ram

The engine is a sight to behold, and a great experience to work on (even if I rarely know what I’m doing). I’m dropping the mostly-stripped block off at my mechanic’s shop tomorrow morning; he’s sending it to another shop that somehow removes all the mineral deposits in the block’s passages and ports. Then, he’ll do any valve and piston work, and I’ll reassemble everything and paint the block a nice, period-correct Packard Gray. At least if everything goes according to plan, that is.
There will be more updates to follow; it’s been hard to hop on the computer to post when my hands seem to be permanently covered in motor oil and sixty years worth of engine bay grime, but I’ve got to somehow make the time. Oh, and everyone is invited to my Woodward Dream Cruise party, provided I have a running car and can find a space along Woodward to park it.

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